It's been 10 years in the making, but rappers Bishop and MeRCY have finally delivered a collaborative project. The two best friends released a full-length, My Brother's Keeper, in April. What was originally intended to be only a mixtape, resulted in 14 clean tracks with an addictive old school sound.
New Times spoke with the two about their friendship, how they keep each other in check, and who's the better rapper.
New Times: How good of friends are you two?
Bishop: We've known each other for 11 years, and I would say our friendship is significant. MeRCY is probably my best friend.
Mercy: The way we first met was college. It was some type of elective class, probably public speaking. I was writing raps. I see Bishop behind me, I didn't know at the time, but he was writing raps at the same time. So I turned around and said, "Yo, you rap nigga?" The same way he was writing his raps was similar to mine. Ever since then that's where it started.
What is it about solidified's production that catches both of your attention?
MeRCY: I think he knows our sound and what we're looking for. He makes sure when he makes a beat, whether it's only for Bishop or only for me, he makes it different and, in someway, it compliments our style. Bishop's sound is a little more emotional. Mine's is a little bit more dark and gritty. He manages to compliment our style when we're both together as a group or as solo artists.
Being close friends, will you still being critical with what each other writes, and make it be known if a bar is just not good?
Bishop: We never want to encourage each other to not put our best effort forward. If I know MeRCY is in the booth, and his energy is just not on that record I'll be like, "Yo, you could do that a little different." He'll go back at do it. And vice-versa.
In my group, nobody is censored. The way we talk to each other, if you hung out with us, if it were your first time, you would think we didn't like each other.
MeRCY: You have to have tough skin to be with us. We crack jokes. We're real blunt with our emotions. We'll say what it is.
Bishop, do you look at MeRCY as a big brother or he's just family, period?
Bishop: I look to him as a big brother. He's very instrumental to everything I've done musically. And over the last 10 years I've learned a lot from him, period.
Aside from a few singers, you didn't have any features. Was that a conscious choice?
MeRCY: We wanted to keep it in-house, first of all. We didn't want it look like we're relying on features.
Bishop: This is the first full-fledged album with all original music, and this is the first time me and MeRCY are doing this and taking it seriously. And we owe it to ourselves for the most part.
On top of that, there's 14 songs, two rappers. You already know, two rappers splitting records, you keep adding another feature that just takes away from what we're doing.
What's the next video going to be?
Bishop: That's something we're discussing right now because there's a lot of ideas. A lot of records I feel we could do visuals for. I don't want to say which one is first.
MeRCY: I feel that we might do at least four more videos. I feel like there could be a video for each song, and we actually made it that way too.
We're working on a few songs. I think we're looking to do "YSL" next. Everybody wants us to do "That's On Everything." We're looking to do a video for "Sunset Strip."
Taking into account sibling rivalry, who's the better rapper?
Bishop: (Laughs) That's not for us to decide. If you ask me I'm going to say MeRCY. If you ask MeRCY he's going to say Bishop.